Our Inuit hunting culture can be traced for centuries back to our ancestors. The Inuit folk utilized the umiak and the kayak to travel by sea, seeking better hunting grounds along the coast.
An umiak is a women’s boat made of seal skins that are stitched together. In this vessel, the women row while the man steers. An umiak can also serve as a tent in the summer. On the other hand, the kayak is more of a one -person transport.
Long ago, the Inuit used harpoons to catch their prey. In the winter, they either went walking or dogsledding across the frozen sea while boring in the ice with an ice chisel which a tool whose handle was made of a piece of strong wood. The head was fashioned out of ivory from strong walrus tusks or whalebone. By traveling in this manner, they hunted seals which swam up to the surface for air.
At last, when they caught the seal and separated its body parts, they would gratefully share the meat with family members, friends, and others in the same vicinity. This practice was the norm that reflected the harmony that the Inuit value.
Furthermore, all parts of the seal served a specific purpose and thus, would not be thrown away. The fat of the seal, for example, was considered both as medicine to maintain good health and for staying warm in the winter. Along with those functions, the seal fat was used as fuel for lamps or qulleqs. In addition to the meat and fat, the seal skin was also a valuable resource since it was used by the Inuit women for making clothing. The internal organs of the seal were usually given to sled dogs – their working dogs. The bones of the seal were also used as parts for tools or as toys for kids. Nothing goes to waste at all.
Hunting today is still carried on with quite the same methods but with some modifications due to the innovation of newer materials and because of gradual technological evolution.
Boats with powerful engines took the place of kayaks which proved to be faster than paddling. Harpoons were replaced with many kinds of rifles which prove to be even more effective over a long distance.
The Inuit also participated in reindeer hunting – mostly as a team. They sailed from the residence in an umiak and went wandering in the backcountry. As a group, they sought out and then surrounded the reindeer in order to catch them. When they had caught a few, they slaughtered them onsite and then carried them to the umiyak.
Every year, reindeer hunting season starts on August the 1st in Northern Greenland and lasts until the end of October.
Likewise, there are some locations where folks can hunt reindeer all year long. During this time of the year, hunters draw lots to see who is going to hunt out of necessity and who will hunt for recreation with a valid hunting certificate. Either way, the hunter who actually shoots a reindeer gets to keep its head and horns on it as evidence of having caught it.
In short, Inuit hunting culture has been very sustainable for the last thousands of years. The entire animal is always consumed and shared. However, the skin of the sea mammal is now sold to the local factory where it is frozen and then sent out for production in Great Greenland who supports sustainable hunting for the benefit of this nation. Because of this efficient industrialization, Great Greenland is able to produce everything from clothing and bags to accessories.